UCLA Bruins vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs – March Madness, April 3, 2021
Once you dig into the betting numbers, it’s easy to feel good about backing either side in a UCLA vs. Gonzaga pick. The Bruins and Bulldogs are a combined 9-0 against the spread in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Mick Cronin and his crew have been underdogs in four of their five games in March Madness – they’ve been down this road before. Meanwhile, the Zags continue to bludgeon whoever stands in front of them.
Let’s preview this Final Four matchup as the stage is set for a west coast school to advance to the Championship Game.
UCLA vs. Gonzaga Odds and Key Info
- When: 5:34 pm EDT, 4/3/2021
- Where: Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
- Coverage: CBS
- Line: Gonzaga -14
- Money Line: Gonzaga -1100, UCLA +700
- Total: 145.5
UCLA’s Path to the Final Four
UCLA players and coaches awoke on March 14th, not knowing if they’d be in the Big Dance. From a bubble team in the First Four to a date in the Final Four, the Bruins journey has put a stamp on the Pac-12’s terrific postseason performance.
It began with an overtime victory over Michigan State thanks to 50 points from the Johnny Juzang/Jaime Jaquez Jr. combo. UCLA shot 42.1% from deep and only turned it over four times in an 11-point win over BYU.
The Bruins stifled Abilene Christian in the Sweet 16 (the Wildcats shot 29.8% from the floor) before upending Alabama in OT, and here we are.
Oh, and it hasn’t been all Juzang/Jaquez. Six UCLA players scored in double figures against the Tide.
Gonzaga’s Path to the Final Four
The #1/#16 game in the West went pretty much as expected – the Zags shot 56% from the field (52% from downtown) and outrebounded Norfolk State 45-22 en route to a 43-point bloodbath. Oklahoma shot 50% from the floor and blocked eight shots in the second round but was still no match. Drew Timme lit up the box score (30/13/4) and led the Bulldogs to an 87-61 victory.
Mark Few’s bunch shot 59.6% and assisted 23 of 34 baskets. After blowing by their first three opponents, many thought a red-hot USC team would give the Bulldogs fits. Not so much.
Gonzaga toyed with the Trojans in the second half after opening up a 19-point lead at halftime. The quest for an unblemished season marches on.
UCLA vs. Gonzaga Matchup to Watch
It’s Cody Riley vs. Drew Timme. The Bruins can’t go toe-for-toe with Gonzaga on the perimeter, but they at least have a trio of 6’6” guards who have the length to slow down Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs. Unless Mick Cronin plans on thrusting Kenneth Nwuba into the mix for extended chunks (Nwuba averages 6.3 minutes/game this season), the burden of stopping Drew Timme falls directly on Cody Riley’s shoulders.
That could be a problem for Hep Cronin and the rest of the Bruins faithful.
Riley got into foul trouble trying to deter Hunter Dickinson and was virtually a non-factor against the last time out. All Timme has done in the last three games is average 25 points per on the heels of shooting 64.4%. The 6’10” sophomore is also contributing 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game during March Madness.
UCLA vs. Gonzaga Betting Pick
My UCLA vs. Gonzaga prediction is that the Zags move on and get one step closer to cutting the nets down on Monday. As far as a Final Four betting pick in the second game on Saturday, I still like the Zags. As well as the Bruins have been playing, matching up against the Bulldogs is uncharted territory.
The team from Spokane leads the nation in scoring (91.6 ppg) and scoring differential (23.1 ppg). They also top the land of college basketball in field goal % (54.9%), and their mark from inside the arc (63.7%) is on pace to be the best 2-point shooting season we’ve ever seen.
How’s that for efficiency?
With the line ballooning to 14.5 points at lots of the top March Madness betting sites, head to BetUS where it’s still at 14, and there’s no boost in the juice.